Competitive asphalt compaction market

Existing tough competition will step up another gear with the launch of further new machines in the asphalt roller market, Mike Woof reports. The asphalt compaction equipment market is intensely competitive, with a number of major firms all fighting to boost market share. And with many major manufacturers having revamped ranges during 2010 and further new models now due, this rivalry is set to become tougher still.
Asphalt Paving, Compaction & Testing / February 13, 2012
BOMAG's BW900-5
With its petrol power, the compact BOMAG BW900-5 machines designed specifically for the US market

Existing tough competition will step up another gear with the launch of further new machines in the asphalt roller market, Mike Woof reports

The asphalt compaction equipment market is intensely competitive, with a number of major firms all fighting to boost market share. And with many major manufacturers having revamped ranges during 2010 and further new models now due, this rivalry is set to become tougher still.

One of the most hotly contended sectors of the asphalt compaction market is for smaller machines, a high percentage of which are supplied to the rental sector. This is a high volume sector, yet major manufacturers have also managed to provide quality equipment for customers. With the downturn in sales in North America and Europe, those customers with cash available have also been able to benefit from extremely attractive purchase deals as manufacturers and dealers reduce unsold stock.

For customers able to invest, this is a good time to buy machines. While the rental fleets of North America and Europe are still full of comparatively recent machines, customers in developing nations are in a strong position when purchasing equipment made in Europe or North America. Contractors in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America are all benefiting from this situation. Meanwhile firms in Brazil, China and India are also able to source compaction machines made by leading brands in these countries, which have proven a huge financial benefit in these tough times for some manufacturers. For the moment, Chinese manufacturers have not entered the international market for asphalt compaction machines. But 269 LiuGong for example is now offering its soil compactors worldwide and it seems likely that Chinese-designed and built asphalt rollers will become available commercially on a global basis in the not too distance future. And when Chinese asphalt rollers do appear they will be extremely competitively priced.

The quality of the compact asphalt roller models offered by major US and European manufacturers is also high. 6791 Ammann, 172 Bomag, 178 Caterpillar, 228 Hamm, 5730 Stone Construction Equipment and 2394 Volvo all launched new compact asphalt rollers in 2010 and now BOMAG and 206 Dynapac are introducing additional new equipment for this segment. Key improvements introduced across the board from the various manufacturers include: new generation engines with reduced emissions and fuel consumption, as well as increased power output; better ergonomics, controls and comfort levels; clear all round visibility; upgraded safety standards; easier maintenance and machine durability. Because rental machines lead a tough life with frequent moves from site to site and are often used by inexperienced operators, these new compact asphalt rollers have to be durable and easy to service. At the same time, product quality and performance is equally important and manufacturers have had to strike a balance between product sophistication and unit cost.

Some of the latest new compact asphalt rollers come from BOMAG and Dynapac. BOMAG is introducing the BW 900-50 tandem asphalt roller specifically for the North American market. The machine retains the same basic design as other compact rollers from the firm such as ease of use, good all-round visibility and ergonomic controls. Weighing in at 1.2tonnes, the BW 900-5 is powered by a 2288 Honda GX360 petrol engine rated at 12.4kW and features 900mm wide drums. With its 961mm overall width this compact machine is aimed at the rental sector and features minimal side clearance, allowing use in confined urban areas and work such as small road repairs and car parks. The front drum delivers a vibration force of 15.1kN, at a frequency of 70Hz 0.5mm amplitude. The front drum vibration ensure the required compaction is met for asphalt as well as sub-base materials.

A 137litre water tank and a pressurised water sprinkler system with interval flow timer suit the BW 900-50 for use on a variety of asphalt applications. The water system is filtered for protection and incorporates an easy drain system. Two flexible scrapers/drum, an articulating and oscillating centre joint, and chamfered edge drums minimise surface marks on asphalt. Individual indicator lights and an hour meter display all main roller functions, while maintenance is aided by accessible fluid drain ports.

Safety features include an emergency stop button, foldable ROPS, reverse warning, seat belt and a mechanical parking brake, while working lights are an option for night operation. A lockable engine hood and the dash board with integrated theft control protect the roller against vandalism, while versatility and ease of transport are maximised due to the fitting of lifting and tie down points. With its petrol engine, the new BOMAG roller competes against other machines suited to US needs.

Dynapac is also aiming its new compact roller range at the rental market, offering upgraded machines that are economical to run and durable for the 2-4tonne class. The new CC1100, CC1200 and CC1300 have been designed for ease of servicing and operation and are said to offer low operating noise and emissions during use, suiting working in urban areas. Effective damping is also said to ensure that the vibration generated in the drums is targeted to the working area and is shielded from the operator. These articulated machines are said to be comfortable to drive for a full shift and also feature good ergonomics and visibility for safety and efficient working. Operation is said to be improved due to the new control system while a low centre of gravity ensures stability in all working conditions. Running and servicing costs are further reduced due to a modular design featuring common components, allowing a fleet operator to reduce parts stocks.

Powered by low emission 1265 Kubota diesel engines, the CC1100, CC1200 and CC1300 rollers weigh from 2.4-3.9tonnes. Large diameter steel drums increase compaction performance on soft asphalt grades, while the ratio of drum diameter to static linear load also helps minimise the risk of cracking. To further increase versatility, Dynapac also offers the machines in combi-form with a single steel drum and four vibratory tyres. The combi versions have separate drive motors for the tyres, which operate in pairs and this configuration is said to reduce the risk of surface scrubbing effects when making tight turns on freshly laid asphalt. A high clearance is provided at the drum edge, which allows compaction close to a high kerb.

These asphalt compactors are versatile and manoeuvrable, suiting them to duties on streets and pavements in urban areas. However, the larger CC1300 can also be used for compacting sub-bases and base courses and can work with a compact paver for jobs in car parks and other urban sites where space is limited and manoeuvrability is required, in addition to productivity. Visibility to the edge of the drums can be further increased by selecting options such as a sideways sliding seat and dual driving controls. A range of options is available in addition to the sliding seat and dual controls while other features include a corrosion-free, impact-resistant water tank that features easy drainage and triple filtering to prevent sprinkler nozzle clogging.

Another highly competitive sector for the asphalt compaction market is for rubber tyred machines. Ammann, BOMAG, Caterpillar, Dynapac and Hamm have all now introduced new high performance rubber tyred rollers in recent years, which feature hydrostatic drives, low centres of gravity and excellent all-round visibility. Other features include the ability to quickly ballast weight to suit a specific application. A key performance feature of these new generation machines is the hydrostatic drive, which allows far more precise control than with the old mechanical drive rubber tyred rollers offered previously. There has been a resurgence in demand in some markets for rubber tyred rollers for finishing work and the fact that so key players in the market have all introduced high performance, modern designs, shows just how important this segment is viewed.

Moving up the size scales, Ammann's revamped roller range includes the AV70-2 and AV 70X models, which share a compact design and sensitive finger-tip controls. The articulated AV70X is compact in design and shares features with the other four models in the X range, with infinitely selectable crab steering for manoeuvrability and an engine positioned in the rear chassis area for maintenance access. Depending on specification the AV70-2 and AV 70X weigh from 7-8.2tonnes and 7.4-7.9tonnes respectively, with working widths of 1.45-2.63m.

BOMAG's new BW174AP, pivot-steered tandem roller, is aimed at the 10tonne class and the firm will also introduce its sophisticated ASPHALT MANAGER II package to tandem rollers being marketed in North America. This new machine features a large cab and ergonomic controls. The new ECOMODE system is said to make the BW174AP economical to run, boosting fuel economy by over 20% according to the firm. A key feature of this is the active engine management package, which delivers power as required and cuts engine output. The system monitors power requirements and automatically adjusts the speed of the engine, as well as reducing in-cab noise levels. The BW174AP is equipped with the firm's sophisticated ASPHALT MANAGER II control package and the new cab benefits from an active armrest system, designed for easy operating use. Standard features include the ECOMODE system, large cab, road traffic lighting and brake release device. A wide range of options is offered including a second edge cutter, a 230V generator, by-pass filter, special outside mirror, electronic theft protection and BOMAG TELEMATIC system. This last can transfer operational data and can also track and allow theft protection, with features such as geofencing. Another option is the new BS180-2 chip spreader, based on the proven and patented vibrating screed with linear exciter. The ASPHALT MANAGER II control package is said to boost working efficiency considerably as this system allows the user to more accurately determine compaction work that has been carried out. Using the system is said to eliminate the risk of over or under compaction and allow contractors to work to design specifications, as well as providing reporting functions for later analysis of work.

Hamm is now offering high frequency versions of its new HD+ range specifically for the US market. The new HD+ 90 and HD+ 110 models compete in the market for rollers with 1.67m wide drums, with operating weights of 9 and 11.5tonnes respectively. As well as the high frequency vibration option, customers can also select conventional vibration, the firm's own oscillation compaction, a combination type, and even a split-drum model. The high frequency compaction machines operate at 4,020vibrations/minute and are designed to match the high productivity paving operations used in the US.

Hamm has re-engineered its Compact Line of smaller asphalt rollers, installing new Kubota engines that offer improved performance and power increases of up to 15%. The 11 strong model line-up includes variants of the same basic chassis, with twin steel drum and combined steel and rubber tyre models, while weights range from 1.5-4.2tonnes. The machines are aimed at the competitive rental market and the company hopes to take a major share of this segment with its revised machines.

The first of 255 JCB Vibromax's new VMT860 double-drum vibratory compactors to roll off the production line is now being used by a contractor in Scotland. The machine is being used for re-surfacing projects for local authorities and has been bought by 1268 Finco Contracts. The first job was a major carriageway resurfacing contract in Coatbridge for 1266 North Lanarkshire Council. Power for this new model comes from JCB's own Dieselmax engine and the compactor is said to deliver productive vibration performance. It is able to operate with low frequency and high amplitude for large asphalt or standard soil applications and at optimised amplitude on high frequency for standard asphalt jobs. The VMT860 is said to feature class-leading fuel and water tank capacities, of 240litres and 1,070litres respectively. Robust and durable, the model is said to offer a productive combination of optimum frequency, centrifugal force, amplitude and fast-rolling speeds. With a drum width of 1.675m, the VMT860 weighs in at 8.75tonnes with standard ROPS protection and 9.25tonnes with the optional full ROPS/FOPS cabin. The cab features a vibration isolated, spacious and ergonomic driver stand with two seats, one central driving lever and a swivelling steering wheel.
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